These simple tips will have you enjoying the best marinated grilled chicken for dinner even on your busiest summer days.
Drumsticks on a grill with grill marks
Holiday Baker
| Credit: Holiday Baker

Chicken is a neutral flavored protein that really takes to flavor-infusing marinades and sauces. When you grill chicken, it's the marinade and the flames that really deliver the flavor. Here's how to get the best from your marinated chicken.

Marination times.

Some marinade recipes call for hours of marinating. You can certainly go the distance if you like, but it's fine to reduce the marinating time. Also, if you start with cold chicken, fresh from the fridge, and cover the chicken and marinade mixture or seal it up tightly in a large plastic bag, you can let it come to room temperature — not longer than 30 minutes. And then take it directly to the hot grill.

Start smooth-side down.

Chicken pieces typically have a smooth side and a rough side. Place your marinated chicken smooth-side down on the hot grill grates to start. If you begin rough-side down, the chicken is more likely to stick, tearing as you turn it.

Easy Chicken Fajita Marinade
Credit: Paula

Thick parts over the hot spots.

Position the chicken pieces so that the thicker parts are sitting over the hottest part of the grill.

Thighs are great for grilling.

Chicken breasts are always delicious. But chicken thighs can be a bit more forgiving on the grill. Because thighs are a little fattier than chicken breasts, they can withstand a smidge o​​​​​​f overcooking on the grill. The fat keeps the meat nice and juicy.

Grilled Marinated Greek Chicken
Grilled Greek Chicken | Photo by Chef John
| Credit: Chef John

Start with a good sear.

Get a good sear on one side, then turn the chicken and finish grilling with the lid closed. This method gives you nice grill marks and also turns your grill into an oven, which will will help cook your chicken evenly.

Boil extra marinade.

If your chicken has been sitting in marinade and you don't want to throw out that tasty liquid, you must boil it for at least 3 minutes to kill any bacteria from the raw chicken before you can use it as a sauce. Boiling marinade will also concentrate flavors. Some cooks prefer to simply hold aside extra marinade and soak the chicken in the rest of it.

Check out our collection of BBQ & Grilled Chicken Recipes.